Sweet lights, man
We thought you'd notice those. The super-bright LED headlamps on the all-new Volvo XC90 are being referred to as "Thor's Hammer" lights, but don't say that in earshot of Marvel Comics' lawyers. The fancy lamps are just part of the new, and typically Swedish, design language that includes a simplified front grille and a fresh range of rims that peak at 22-inches. But what lies beneath is arguably the most exciting aspect...
Has Volvo dumped a 6.0-litre V12 under the bonnet, then?
No, quite the opposite in fact. The range-topping XC90 models feature hybrid tech that harnesses power from a four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, which equates to nearly 400bhp underneath the right foot. Owners will also be able to motor on battery power alone for around 25 miles and avoid road tax thanks to the measly 60g/km CO2 produced by the pipes. A good range of frugal petrol and diesel engines will also be available at launch.
More after the break...
Aren't Volvos a bit, erm, boring?
That may have been true a few years ago – but this car is the first in a long line of exciting new products from the revitalised manufacturer. The dashboard, for example, features a new tablet-like touch-screen Sensus infotainment system that operates most of the car's functions. It does away with the need for buttons, which allowed designers to beautifully de-clutter the interior surfaces.
What tech can we expect?
Volvo has confirmed that its Sensus system will support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as packing its own advanced voice control. Based on Nuance's speech recognition software – the same tech that underpins Apple's Siri – Volvo's version can do everything from make phone calls to changing the radio station and even adjusting the climate control.
The tiled display system on that fancy touch screen is extremely pleasing, too. Users simply select a menu and it expands, shrinking the others so they are constantly available. It's brilliantly intuitive and completely connected, so owners can take advantage of a whole host of cloud-based apps and services.
Volvos are super safe, aren't they?
Yes they are. In fact, Volvo has set itself the goal that nobody will be seriously injured or killed in one of its vehicles by 2020. It's a tough task but the XC90 packs advanced tech that brings it ever closer to this target. A brace of advanced radars, sensors and cameras can now detect cyclists and pedestrians and will automatically apply the brakes if vulnerable road users cross the XC90s path. The car will also auto-brake if the driver attempts to turn into a junction when another vehicle is approaching. Finally, there's even a safety feature that pre-empts a road run-off and tightens the seatbelts in preparation for impact.
Taking on the mighty Land Rover Discovery is an even bigger ask, isn't it?
It is, but Volvo's new offering is pretty swanky inside. A 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system can be specified, as well as niceties that include a cut glass gear shifter and walnut inlays for the doors and dash. Plus, a fully stocked, seven-seater XC90 will cost around £50,000 when it goes on sale next year, making it nearly £10,000 cheaper than the equivalent Land Rover Discovery.